The Quad-City Arts Festival of Trees will celebrate its 25th anniversary this year by returning to “Treasured Traditions.”
Designers have been encouraged to go back to traditional designs, festival director Deb McDaniel said, and many have adopted themes that include Grandma’s Attic, Raggedy Ann, Norman Rockwell, homemade cookies, hard candy and board games.
“All of those meanings that you conjure up about Christmas when you were a kid,” McDaniel told members of the media during a kickoff luncheon held Thursday at the Quad-City ArtsCenter in Rock Island.
The festival, open to the public Nov. 20-28, also will celebrate by asking area culinary artists to create artificial tiered cakes marking the anniversary, with votes from the public determining the winner.
There are several other changes this year, with a new Nov. 20 parade route that was forced by the additions of medians to River Drive in downtown Davenport. The parade will be staged in the MidAmerican Energy Co. parking lot and wind from the north side of the RiverCenter, down 3rd Street to Scott Street and return on 2nd Street to the south side of the RiverCenter.
New balloons in the parade this year will include Yogi Bear, Bugs Bunny, a gingerbread boy, the American flag and Amelia Earhart. The Yogi and Bugs balloons are thanks to a new agreement that the supplier has signed with Warner Bros.; the Earhart likeness may be the first real-life female on a balloon, McDaniel said.
There also will be more space for visitors in the Great Hall of the RiverCenter, with the gift shop being moved to the atrium. That will allow the opening Grand Premiere Party on Nov. 19 to have guests seated at tables, McDaniel said.
The stage will have the festival logo, this year’s theme and “25th anniversary” on display in 2,000-plus lights, McDaniel said, while an LED lighting effect will make it appear to be snowing in the RiverCenter.
“You’re gonna need sunglasses,” she said. “It’ll be beautiful.”
Many volunteers still are needed to complete the total of 3,500-plus who give their time each year. Volunteer registration can be done through the festival’s website.
McDaniel said the Festival of Trees is one of the great Quad-City traditions, drawing huge crowds from both the local area and the region.
“What other event, maybe Bix, do people come together for a festival like this?” she asked.